There are two schools of thought:
People who say GABA supplements work well for anxiety
People who say GABA supplements only works in certain instances.
GABA, or Gamma-aminobutyric acid, is actually a neurotransmitter that helps send messages between the brain and the nervous system.
GABA’s main function is to reduce the activity of excitatory nerve cells in the nervous system.
Research has found that it plays a role in many conditions, including anxiety and stress.
But GABA is also available as a nutritional supplement.
Does it work?
The GABA naysayers say that because GABA is a large compound, it is too large to cross the blood-brain barrier.
A healthy blood-brain barrier only allow compounds that are nanoparticles (very small) to cross.
However, a leaky brain is capable of allowing dangerous foreign materials into the brain that could trigger inflammation, such as environmental toxins or undigested food particles.
In fact, many practitioners use GABA supplements as a “GABA challenge” to determine if their patients have a leaky blood brain barrier.
If GABA supplements calm or relax you, that’s a sign of a damaged blood brain barrier.
Dr. Datis Kharrazhian, DC is fully in this camp as he discusses GABA in his 2013 book “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?“.
GABA doesn’t have any effect on me either.
What can cause low GABA levels?
Gluten, autoimmune disorders, Autism, GAD autoimmunity, caffeine, blood sugar dysregulation, anemia, lack of oxygen, toxic chemicals or heavy metals can cause deficient levels of GABA.
Lack of adequate cofactors can cause low GABA levels too.
GABA, an inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitter, is produced in the brain from Glutamate, the brain’s most important excitatory neurotransmitter.
This conversion process requires the active form of vitamin B6 (P5P), Magnesium, Zinc, Manganese, and the enzyme Glutamate Decarboxylase (GAD).
So if you are low on any of these cofactors, you will have trouble converting Glutamate to GABA.
Pro GABA supporters see dramatic results with GABA supplementation.
They argue that there is much clinical evidence indicating that supplemental GABA (especially in a sublingual form) can ease anxiety symptoms.
The blood brain barrier is more dynamic than assumed in the past and perhaps the enteric nervous system (the gut-brain axis) is in play here.
Trudy Scott, CN says
“Remember when it comes to brain chemical imbalances and anxiety we have 3 anxiety types:
- Low GABA anxiety type (physical anxiety, more stiff and tense muscles)
- Low Serotonin anxiety type (mental anxiety, ruminations, negative self-talk, worry)
- Low blood sugar anxiety type (physical anxiety, but more shaky)
You need to figure out which type of anxiety you are experiencing and address that. It can be different for each person but it’s not uncommon to experience all of the above.”
How do you know if GABA will work?
Take the GABA Challenge test by taking straight GABA supplements (nothing added) and see if you feel considerably calmer or relaxed within 30 minutes or so.
For complete instructions, follow the directions in The GABA Challenge.
How much GABA should you take?
Trudy Scott, CN, recommends “for a client totally new to GABA, I’d start with 100-200 mg in the evening and increase slowly over a few weeks based on symptom relief, up to 500-1000 mg.”
What brand of GABA is best?
Trudy prefers Source Naturals brand as well as the brands she recommends in her Supplements post.
Additionally, you can trust all the brands available at Emerson Wellevate.
For a free account and up to 35% discount on high quality supplements, let me know if you want to sign up. Contact me for a free 20 Minute Chat. (I do not profit from this, it’s just a great service).
What should you do if GABA doesn’t work?
Hold tight, that’s the subject of my next article, “Natural Supplements for Anxiety” 🙂
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Joli Tripp and Mind Blowing Wellness are not medical doctors nor licensed medical professionals. No comment or recommendation should be construed as being a medical diagnosis. If you suffer from a medical or pathological condition, you should consult an appropriate healthcare provider.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
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